Last week my nine-year-old daughter, Lily, asked me a tough question:
‘Why would someone let off a bomb that would kill them and other people?’
The best way that I could explain how someone could think – and act – in that way is that they cannot forgive. They have become so angry that their rage matters more than its consequences. I asked Lily to imagine the angriest boy in her class being given weapons like knives and bombs. Would they use them when they lost their temper? Possibly.
Although it had a less violent effect than terrorism, I encountered another case of rage online yesterday. An administrator of the facebook page, Nye Bevan News, raged against almost everyone around him. I tried to persuade him that his hard work on the page was appreciated and that it was no use attacking those who worked with him, but he couldn’t stop himself. And now he has dropped out of being an administrator and has hurt several people with aggressive posts. He was unable to forgive people around him for what he perceived as their failings and a lack of respect for him.
Interacting with the man from Nye Bevan News, I could see that I had also felt these feelings of anger towards people in the Labour Party. I never really acted on them except to write a fairly spiky blog or two about how I had been unfairly treated. But I certainly felt resentful towards some people who had seemed to block me from making Stand up for Labour a thriving success.
The conversation I had with my daughter and the experience of the man from Nye Bevan News made me realise that I have to forgive if I am to be of any use. I also believe this is key to Jeremy Corbyn’s success as a Labour leader: he has always been able to forgive people who may have worked against him in the past.
It is clear to me that there is a lot of simmering anger within some people in the Labour Party. There are people who have opposed each other for positions within the party that have not been able to let go of the rivalry and I believe there is still some fallout from the leadership elections in the past two years.
These resentments are doing nobody any good: not the person who holds the resentment (sleepless nights), their family and friends (constantly being bad tempered) or the party itself (no solidarity).
Time to unite
It is clear that the Tories will not let go of power easily so unlikely that there will be a General Election in the next two years.
Now is a good period for everyone in the party to make a concerted effort to forgive each other and move on. Resentments and anger are poisonous and take people away from the sunlight of the spirit – from which we can fight campaigns and win more voters over to our side.
We can get over resentments by stopping creating cartoon images of each other, labelling each other (‘Tories’, ‘Trots’) and by actually getting together for social events that don’t involve sniping.
Stand up for Labour is close to reaching its Crowdfunder target and to starting a tour of CLPs that will engage and unite members behind our common purpose: fighting for social justice and winning power. Our events will chip away at the resentments and bring people together in a way that will be very helpful to the party.
Over 125 people have donated £5 or more to the Crowdfunder. In return they will receive badges, t-shirts, mugs, tickets, signed posters and curry.